This CD contains four orchestral works by Gershwin played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra led by James Judd. All the works are played very well, but not without imperfections. "Gershwin in Hollywood" was actually an orchestral arrangement by Robert Russel Bennett of some of Gershwin's most famous songs. This is apparently the only recording of this work available and it is very fun to listen to. Even if you are not familiar with Gershwin's songs (I am not), this arrangement should please any fan of light orchestral music, and it's played well here.
An American in Paris is given a more lightweight performance here than usual which, for me, is a good thing. This work can sound really abrasive and noisy in some performances, but here the modernist elements are downplayed and the Romantic sensibility underlying the work is emphasized. While not necessarily the first choice for some (try Fiedler/Boston Pops for the "traditional" approach), this performance is very enjoyable to hear. The Cuban Overture is given a rip-roaring performance by the New Zealanders, highlighting the Cuban dance rhythms that Gershwin discovered in his visit to Havana, and is over almost too soon. The Porgy and Bess Suite (another R. R. Bennett arangement) is done very well, though not as polished as some performances (Dorati or Ormandy). At times the tempos seem a bit rushed, while some sections of the orchestra are not always at the forefront where they should be. These are minor quibbles, however, as the performance overall contains the necessary swagger and excitement it needs to convey the essential tunes from Gershwin's opera successfully. All but the most fussy listeners will surely enjoy this performance. The sound quality throughout the CD is bold and vivid, though sometimes lacking the necessary clarity.
All around, this is a great CD of "fun" music, played and recorded well. Given the budget price, this CD is a modest investment which is more than worthwhile for all Gershwin fans, as well as for all fans of light orchestral music.